Water Shortage Problem and Solution
Changing weather patterns and the COVID-19 pandemic are two factors that are complicating the worldwide water shortage problem and solution. But there’s plenty of hope.
Water stress occurs when there’s not enough safe, useable water to meet demands. It stems from two factors:
- A physical shortage of water
- Inadequate infrastructure to deliver clean water
The good news is that “almost always, the drinking water problem has nothing to do with physical water scarcity,” says Mark Giordano, an expert on water management from Georgetown University. He explains that getting clean drinking water into the hands of those who most need it requires infrastructure.1
To illustrate the problem, let’s compare wealthy countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UAE is located in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that suffers the most in terms of physical water stress due to lack of rain. Yet, the wealthy country sidesteps the need to use water for agriculture by importing almost all of its food. It also relies on desalination of ocean water, which currently is expensive and energy-intensive.
In stark comparison, the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa gets plenty of rain. But it lacks infrastructure to provide clean drinking water to its residents. They often end up getting sick from contaminated water they collect from unsafe and untreated sources, like ponds or contaminated wells.
“There is a positive correlation between increased national income and the proportion of population with access to improved water supply,” according to the World Health Organization.2
Addressing the global water shortage problem and finding solutions creates momentum that improves people’s lives: safe water and proper sanitation support economic growth, and vice versa.3
Water solutions also save countries money. In 1991, a cholera epidemic consumed Peru. It cost $1 billion to treat. Experts estimate that it could have been prevented by spending $100 million—a tenth of what it actually cost to address.4 And the $1 billion doesn’t take into account the lost lives and suffering because no one took precautions.
Water shortage problems and solutions are complex, but even small steps make big differences in people’s lives.
At GFA, we save one person at a time, one village at a time, through our access to clean drinking water solutions.Learn more about water solutions
1 Felter, C. and Robison, K. “Water stress: A global problem that’s getting worse.” https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/water-stress-global-problem-thats-getting-worse. April 22, 2021.
2 “Generating Economic Benefits with Improved Water Resources Management and Services.” The World Health Organization. http://web.archive.org/web/20211127203537/https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/watandmacr2.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2022.